Soccer, or football, is a fast paced, high intensity game that leverages peak athleticism in combination with football intelligence, tactics, and mechanical technique to produce dynamic and entertaining gameplay. When it comes to soccer training, the range of drills and practice techniques is forever evolving. The drills we feature here aren’t focused on in-depth tactical movements, and instead focus on training fundamentals.
1. The Messi Dribble
Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest ever player to play the game. This drill is named after him. Here’s how to do it.
- This is a practice match, but with altered rules.
- Divide the pitch horizontally into thirds with sporadic cones.
- In the defensive and middle thirds, players can take a maximum of three touches before they must pass.
- In the attacking third, the players may take as many touches as they please.
- If the ball goes out of play, it’s restarted with a kick in under 4 seconds.
- Goalkeepers are restricted to rolling the ball out in under 4 seconds.
2. Keep Possession
This one is a classic, and it’s designed to develop passing technique, spatial awareness and positioning, along with smart pressing. Here’s what to do.
- Mark out a square quadrant with cones. Adjust the area size depending on the number of players involved.
- The object of the game is to keep possession (there are no goals).
- You can adjust this game by implementing a one touch or two touch rule, or ask players to control or pass using their weak foot.
3. One on One
Especially important for strikers, the ability to finish one on one is a crucial finishing technique. This drill is designed to foster that situation. Here what to do.
- Have one player ready to pass the ball into space, simulating a through ball that bisects a defence.
- Have your attackers sprint on to the ball and attempt to beat the keeper.
- You can add defenders into the drill, and allow the distributor of the pass to join in the attacking play to create a 2 on 2 or 2 on 3 situation.
4. Defending – Train the Backs
This drill can involve the whole team, and trains various elements of play. A primary function of this drill is to get the back four playing with confidence and unity, as their aim is to concentrate on their positioning, and to hold their shape in the face of waves of attackers. Here’s what to do.
- With your back 4 in place, and a keeper in goal, you’ve got a 5-man defensive unit at the ready.
- On the attacking side, you can place anywhere from 4, right up to 10 players. This might make it seem like the odds will be stacked against the defence. To some extent, this is correct, and it’s a good idea to start with an even distribution of attackers to defenders. However, over time, you will find that if the defence plays properly, it will still be very hard for the attacking players to score. This is because football is a game of positioning and discipline, at least from the defensive perspective.
- You must instruct your defenders to maintain a line, starting a few yards outside the 18-yard line. They must get used to stepping up together as a defensive unit if they attacking team attempts to play a through ball, or to respond to the run appropriately if it is correctly timed.
- The key message to pass on to your defenders should be about the awareness of space. Each defender, spread in a line to cover roughly the width of the box, is responsible for their concordant zone. If the defensive line gets dragged to one side of the pitch, the unit must move together to maintain tight spacing.
It’s a standard classic, but penalty shootouts do happen, and it is good practice for your outfield players, as well as the keeper, to practice their technique and bottle from the 12-yard line. Making a game of this practice can help to build team morale, and is a good way to end a tough session.
We encourage you to experiment and alter these techniques to suit your players and your needs. Soccer is highly in-depth, but it’s about having fun too!